I've been dog sitting for the last week, staying in a strange house with a strange animal. Things had gone as well as to be expected until Friday evening, when I experienced a fear previously unknown to me.
Let me preface that, growing up, I did not live in a neighborhood. Our driveway was uphill and gravel and few visitors ever arrived unexpectedly. We did not have a doorbell, and aside from known guests, UPS men, and expected visitors, few people ever arrived on my doorstep.
Friday evening I had retired, light out, head on pillow around 11:30pm. Something woke me just after midnight. At first I thought it was a clock, marking the hour, but upon further consideration, I realized it to be the doorbell. Nervous, I decided to stay in bed. My logic was, "It only rang once, so if I don't answer perhaps whoever it is will move about their business." Ten minutes later, it rang twice more. Following that same logic, I remained in bed while my small furry companion began barking. Maybe 30 seconds after the bell, I noticed headlights shining in the driveway, signalling what I hoped to be the visitor's exit.
At this point, I'm still in bed, watching the window with intent eyes, listening for signs of someone in or around the house. The house I'm sitting at is at the beginning of a subdivision, the first house. While it is situated in a neighborhood, it's still a bit far removed, and one would have to have the intention of arriving here, rather than accidently stumbling upon a house. The driveway forks into two, one leading up to the front door, one going down and around to the basement. I have never before noticed headlights shining into the bedroom window so I have no idea where this car would have been in order to achieve that illumination.
Unable to sleep, I lay in bed, my mind racing, until almost quarter till 1. I finally decide to get up and walk around the upper level of the house, listening and reassuring myself that all's well. Everything checks out and I get back in bed. Not five minutes passes and the headlights appear in my window again, followed by frantic doorbell ringing. Terrified, I call my father, who says he'll come over and check things out. I end the night in the master bathroom, door locked, on the phone with my mother, completely outside myself.
By the time dad arrives, the doorbell has been ringing constantly for 15 minutes or more, and I've come to the conclusion that it's malfunctioning in some way. Dad removes it from its perch on the doorframe outside, as I sit in the floor to ensure our furry friend doesn't wander out of doors, and as he walks in with it, I notice he's wearing new white tennis shoes. His diagnosis is that someone did push the button and it remained stuck, which caused it to ring insessently.
I will admit to little experience in dealing with true strangers. I'll also admit to an extreme dislike of confrontation. While I was braver than I thought I could be (just getting out of bed was a huge step), I still wish to be more bold and willing to protect what's mine instead of lying fearfully by. Last night my brother and his friend did me a huge favor and stayed the night with me, bringing video games and laughter as protection. Now it's my turn to learn how to be able to protect myself.